Map The Fruit!

Ah, cherry season is upon us. Our fingers are running red with ripe Rainiers, we cherish the Chelans and titter for the Teitons. Of course, long-time readers will remember our paeans to the plum (Field Guide to Plums, Wallingford Plum Soup, etc.), so it was with great delight that we read Kimberly C’s mail tipping us off to City Fruit, an on-line map of fruit trees in the city:

Using it, you can register fruit trees that you know about and find new ones you didn’t. It’s a great way to share with your neighbors and keep all that rich, delicious fruit from rotting on limb. Kimberly says she’s mapped her ancient pear tree, reportedly leftover from the days when lower Wallingford was an orchard

OK, we confess. Looking at the map, with strewn with icons for plums, apples, pears and more, we felt our chest tighten and our fingers freeze. Those are OUR trees on the map.

Well, not “ours” in the sense that we own them. They’re up the street, around the corner, down the block, but for years we’ve enjoyed their bounty. What if crowds of people pick the branches clean before we get there? Before the fruit is even ripe?


Well, perhaps, as the City Fruit web site claims, it’s all for the good of the community. If we see you by one of “our” trees, maybe we can strike up a conversation, get to know each other.

Maybe you’ll give us a jar of cherry preserves?

Update: City Fruit would like to clarify that just because a tree is on the map, doesn’t mean it’s available for public picking. Use yer common sense and check with the owner.

  1. nancy said,

    hey all,
    i work with City Fruit. the map isn’t intended to point out trees that owners have said are ok for anyone to pick. we just thought it would be neat to be able to visualize all the fruit trees in the city.
    City Fruit organizes volunteers to pick fruit, with tree owner permission, and donate it to food banks and other groups that feed the hungry. if anyone wants to volunteer to help pick, let us know at [email protected]!

    Tue, July 13 at 4:12 pm
  2. jonathan said,

    yeah, as a person who has their trees mapped i can definitely say the map isn’t for public “gleaning” — most of the trees are on private property. but city fruit works with the tree owners to pick the extra fruit they’re not using and donate it to local food banks, soup kitchens, etc. as nancy writes. so it is indeed for the public good.

    please don’t just go to the trees on the map and pick fruit without first asking the tree owners.

    Tue, July 13 at 4:51 pm
  3. Wallyhood said,

    Hey Nancy, it might be a good idea to share the purpose a bit (and protocols for public gleaning) on the map. It doesn’t say anywhere on the map page what the expectations are.
    Thanks for putting this together. It’s a fantastic idea.

    Tue, July 13 at 5:36 pm
  4. Adam Szofran said,

    Would any cherry tree owners be willing to share their pest control secrets with me?  I have a Stella (sweet dark) cherry tree that used to provide buckets of great pest-free cherries.  The last few years it has become progressively more infested with fruit-fly maggots.  This year it was so bad that essentially none of the fruit was edible.  What can I do to control the maggots that won’t turn my yard into a chemical wasteland?

    Tue, July 13 at 5:51 pm
  5. Barb said,

    Adam, you can send your inquiry to the “Fruit Guys” at City Fruit. Send an email, with photos if possible, to:  [email protected]
    They post selected questions and answers on the City Fruit blog:

    Tue, July 13 at 6:48 pm
  6. Barb said,

    And, since we’re talking about harvesting fruit, consider volunteering for the Community Fruit Tree Harvest in Wallingford.
    Community Fruit Tree Harvest volunteers are needed to:

    Scout trees in your neighborhood for ripeness
    Harvest at scheduled work parties
    Be “on call” to harvest fruit in your neighborhood (an email will go out to the volunteers in a particular neighborhood when a tree there is ripe. Available volunteers will make arrangements for picking).
    Provide garage storage for ladders, picking buckets, and/or harvested fruit.
    Deliver harvested fruit to food banks and meals programs.

    If you would like to volunteer, please attend one of our volunteer orientations and fill out a volunteer application (send it in to [email protected]).
    July 27, 6:30pm – 7:30pm, Ballard Library (5614 22nd Ave NW)
    July 28, 6:30pm – 7:30pm, Wallingford, Solid Ground (1501 N 45th St)
    July 29, 6:30pm – 7:30pm, Northeast Library (6801 35th Ave NE)
    August 2, 6:30pm – 7:30pm, Douglass-Truth Library (2300 E Yesler Way)

    If you’re unable to attend an orientation, we’d still love your help! Contact Sadie at [email protected] or 206-694-6751.

    If you have fruit to donate, please contact Seattle Tilth’s Garden Hotline at 206-633-0224 or [email protected]

    Tue, July 13 at 6:54 pm
  7. rachel said,

    Also, if people have fruit trees in their yard and want to donate the fruit to those in need (usually homeless shelters), Community Fruit Tree Harvest will come harvest your tree for you (and you can keep some, too:) for free. They came and took a load of plums from me last year, it was great. So many of them rot and go to waste every year. Check them out at:

    Tue, July 13 at 6:54 pm
  8. MargL said,

    Community Harvest of Southwest Seattle also has a program for harvesting trees volunteered by private owners for the West Seattle and White Center areas. The fruit goes to the White Center food bank.
    They are looking for trees and volunteers, too
    I hope someone sends a correction to the PI Blog story about where the tree data came from because they also made it sound like any tree on the map is open for anyone to come pick. Don’t really want random folks arriving unnannounced in my backyard trying to pick up some free fruit.

    Tue, July 13 at 8:46 pm
  9. heather said,

    I recently moved near 40th & Stone Way. There is a cherry tree in my neighbor’s yard that is more-than-half hanging over into my yard and needs some serious cherry-picking. (they drop everywhere and are a real mess without someone to pick them) I would love to learn the right time to pick them and love to share them with anyone in the neighborhood- esp. if you’ll donate some to a food bank.  Please contact me if you want to come pick or even if you can just offer advice. Thank you!!
    email @ [email protected]

    Tue, July 13 at 10:29 pm
  10. Jon said,

    I have to say that though your intentions are undoubtedly honorable, they are certainly not clear.  I have a number of fruit trees which (intentionally) hang over the fence on the sidewalk side so friends and neighbors can grab a handful of whatever is ripe and enjoy the bounty.  The rest get served at the ROOTS young adult shelter in the U District.  However, some (greedy, moronic, you choose the words) people who I generally have never seen before, come before the fruit is even ripe with their bowls and bags and pick what ever they want.  No one has ever asked permission.  One year the cherry tree was picked clean over night.  Unfortunately, your article appears to approve of this (theft) behavior.

    Wed, July 14 at 9:54 am
  11. Wallyhood said,

    @Jon, even with the “Update” note at the bottom?

    Wed, July 14 at 10:01 am
  12. MargL said,

    What about the cases where a volunteer organization reguarlly picks a tree on public land for donation to food banks. Do those trees now become ‘first come first serve’? Hmmm… street corner fruit stand!

    Wed, July 14 at 10:30 am
  13. Barb said,

    I work with the Community Fruit Tree Harvest in Wallingford and we’ve been kicking around a few ideas about signage that could help advertise and clarify what we are trying to accomplish, such as: 1) signs for individual trees that tell the type of fruit tree and that it is supported / cared for by particular organizations; 2) sidewalk signs at harvest time that identify who is harvesting the tree and for what organization; 3) sidewalk signs at other times when fruit tree maintenance is taking place, such as pruning, thinning, pest control. We’d like to inform and educate the neighbors about what it takes to have a healthy fruit tree and who can help.

    Fri, July 16 at 9:24 am
  14. Wallyhood said,

    Barb, this might be outside your set of goals, but I’ve hung a hand-lettered sign on my (now deceased) peach tree in past years that says “Help yourself to one piece, leave some for others”. I’ll bet if you created a few versions of this (“Help yourself to a handful…”) that people could download and print, they would get some good use. Put a bit of City Fruit background / branding on the sign and poof, you’ve got a great way to spread the word about your organization (even in cases where the gleaning is not going through your org).

    Fri, July 16 at 10:09 am
  15. Barb said,

    That’s a good idea, Jordan. That way fruit trees are acknowledged plus everyone walking by knows what the status of the tree is. I can appreciate a digital tree-mapping system, but our immediate goal is to get some attention for trees in Wallingford below 40th (boundary is flexible). Any volunteers? The first step is to find which neighbors have fruit trees and if they would like help taking care of them. Feel free to reply to me by email:  [email protected]

    Fri, July 16 at 2:38 pm
  16. Jon said,

    Much as I applaud your intentions, some of us who have been victims of midnight raids on our fruit trees would really rather not have our trees pointed out on your maps.  Is there any way you could ask the owners if they would like to be mapped or not?

    Sun, July 18 at 2:10 pm
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